The Lamb

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This article is about the William Blake poem. For other uses, see Lamb (disambiguation).
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy C, 1789, 1794 (Library of Congress), object 8, "The Lamb" currently held at the Library of Congress.

"The Lamb" is a poem by William Blake, published in Songs of Innocence in 1789.

The Lamb

   Little lamb, who made thee?
   Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
   Little lamb, who made thee?
   Does thou know who made thee?

   Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;
   Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is callèd by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are callèd by His name.
   Little lamb, God bless thee!
   Little lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake, 1789
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"The Lamb" is the companion poem to Blake's poem: "The Tyger" in Songs of Experience. Blake wrote Songs of Innocence as a contrary to the Songs of Experience – a central tenet in his philosophy and a central theme in his work.[1] Like many of Blake's works, the poem is about Christianity. The lamb is a common metaphor for Jesus Christ, who is also called "The Lamb of God" in John 1:29.

This poem has a simple rhyme scheme : AA BB CC DD AA AA EF GG FE AA. The layout is set up by two stanzas with the refrain: "Little Lamb who made thee?/Dost thou know who made thee?". In the first stanza, the speaker asks the lamb who his creator is; the answer lies at the end of the poem. Here we find a physical description of the lamb, seen as a pure and gentle creature. In the second stanza, the lamb is compared with the infant Jesus, as well as between the lamb and the speaker's soul. In the last two lines the speaker identifies the creator: God.

Like the other Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, The Lamb was intended to be sung; William Blake's original melody is now lost. It was made into a song by Vaughan Williams, although he described it as "that horrible little lamb - a poem that I hate".[2] It was also set to music by Sir John Tavener, who explained, "The Lamb came to me fully grown and was written in an afternoon and dedicated to my nephew Simon for his 3rd birthday." American poet Allen Ginsberg set the poem to music, along with several other of Blake's poems, in the 1970s.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kazin, Alfred. "Introduction". The Portable Blake. The Viking Portable Library. 41-43
  2. ^ Hold, Trevor (2005). Parry to Finzi: Twenty English Song-Composers. Boydell Press. p. 122. ISBN 9781843831747. 
  3. ^ "Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, tuned by Allen Ginsberg"

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